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How best to handle new in law situation


wish4me

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My husband and I have been married for 3 months. He comes from a very close family, with 5 siblings.

 

For the past few weeks his Mom, keeps repeating - in her own words " your his wife and I understand that you and things at your house come first... and that's ok.." (If its ok with her then why is she bringing it up all the time?)

 

Just last week his sister gave birth to a beautiful baby. She was in labor for over 18 hours and had complications from the epidural. It's family tradition that when a baby is born within his family, all the siblings gather at the hospital prior to delivery to get first insight of news. I had just got home from work that day after working a 12 hour shift. My husband asked me if it was ok for him to drive to the hospital to wait on the news... I didn't care for him to go and besides both my kids had school the following day (and tests) and I needed to get them to bed early. Besides, I didn't know how long we would be at the hospital. I felt that it was a special time for his sister and husband, with their first child, and that it would be ok for me to visit them the following night.

 

My husband arrived home late and told me that ALL the family were there, including grandchildren, cousins etc (over 18 people surrounding the nursing station).. I went to the hospital the following night to see the baby, but was greeted by my mother-in-law with a very COLD attitude. She was distant and made the remark "well, we missed not seeing you here last night". I felt like I was being judged.. seriously.. Perhaps my ways are old fashioned but I felt that his sister/brother-in-law needed that time together.. I know I would.......

 

When I left the hospital his Mom told me "you need to call me more... I don't like calling you because you may be busy doing things"... I just feel like I'm not fitting into her ways.. How can I address this issue with her?

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well, you guys have issues with his family and boundaries. you've known that for a while. i think you did nothing wrong by not going to the hospital and 'waiting' for the birth. i mean, you got there when you could. i think that they're unreasonable in some of their expectations. his parents need to take a chill pill. don't let them bother you.

 

edit: i know women who have been in labor for 72 hours! i mean, that's great if you have nothing else in your life going on and you can sit and wait, but clearly, you have your own kids to take care of. send flowers to the hospital. that's how i feel. visit when you can.

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Read the bolded again... She's looking for some indication from you that you WANT to build a relationship with her, and she's trying really hard to not be the overbearing mother-in-law. This is a change for her too, to accept that her son now has new priorities that push her down the list a notch. I imagine that's a tough pill for many to swallow. At least she's trying...

 

Look, we can't pick our in-laws, nor do we have the right to expect them to change who THEY are to suit our view on things. Honestly, you're luckier than most in that she at least recognizes that her son's marriage should be his first priority. She knows it. She's trying to let you know she respects it. But she doesn't have to like it, and you need to understand that this is an adjustment for her too.....

 

I can tell you, building a positive relationship with your MIL can ADD to your marriage..Show some interest in spending time with the woman who raised your son. Take her for lunch and some afternoon shopping, try to get to KNOW her.

 

As for the delivery thing, if it comes up again, I'd say "I know, I really would have liked to have been there, but I was exhausted and the kids needed to sleep for school the next day. I'm just glad that [your husband] was able to be their to represent our family." Acknowledge their traditions, don't argue the logic in them.

 

Reach out to her. Find the things you like about her, and focus on those. Do your best to ignore the qualities that are less than preferable. Just as you would with your own family- focus on the positive and build on that.

 

Edit to add: Sometimes ALL people are looking for is acknowledgement that they are considered. I know someone who has a specific food sensitivity, for example. If I make the effort to call and say "I'm making XYZ appetizer, and I know it has G ingredient, which you have problems with...Do you like ABC, because I can make that too"...the response is "Oh- don't worry about me, I'll be fine with what's there (other food)"...BUT if we don't acknowledge, and just make XYZ, EVERYONE will hear about how this person CAN'T have ingredient G...Either scenario involves no actual different action on my part, except the ACKNOWLEDGEMENT of the other person....

 

Sometimes, that's all it takes, a little consideration and acknowledgement and the other person feels valued and is able to be more gracious.

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I think you were wrong in not joining in the family tradition and it is going to cause you difficulties in the future if you persist in this attitude. You will not be accepted into your husband's family because your actions rejected them - and you are going to place your husband in the middle of a conflict that you have created.

 

It is frankly not your place to say "this time was for her and her husband" because that is not for you to decide - it is their decision and if they feel differently than the family tradition it is for them to decide and to say so.

 

I think you made a misstep here and have some fence-building to do before you create more unnecessary tensions. Don't try and change family traditions unless there is an imperative reason and your shift, children etc. were transitory reasons that should have taken second place besides what is a momentous event for this family.

 

I urge you to reconsider your position - it was not wise in the greater scheme of things and establishing a good relationship with his family. It was not that great a sacrifice and you could easily have made it.

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^^ while i totally get what you are saying DN, what is wish to do if she has children who need to get to school early the next morning? I don't know how old the kids are, but would she really be able to leave them home alone while she goes to the hospital overnight?

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^^ while i totally get what you are saying DN, what is wish to do if she has children who need to get to school early the next morning? I don't know how old the kids are, but would she really be able to leave them home alone while she goes to the hospital overnight?

Assuming you can't get a babysitter then you take the kids for a little while and then excuse yourself because they need to get to bed and everyone can see it. Or hubby goes for a while and then s-i-l goes for a while and the kids stay home. Use some creative imagination to deal with the situation. What did other siblings do with their children? If the kids are tired the next morning - they will get over it. Kids are resilient.

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I had just got home from work that day after working a 12 hour shift. My husband asked me if it was ok for him to drive to the hospital to wait on the news... I didn't care for him to go

I also find this very peculiar. He had to ask for permission to go? And you didn't care for him to do that? What is that dynamic all about?
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I think that family needs a BIG wakeup call that hospitals are not "party central" To have the entire extended family there is just plain and simple rude to other patients and rude to the staff. They take up much needed chairs and space, I am sure they were all chattering away making noise. I am quite frankly horrified that so many people felt they needed to subject their family dynamic to other patients and staff at the hospital. If they are like The Waltons great for them, but there is a time and place to show off this Walton's family life...and at a hospital is neither the time nor place. A phone call to the extended family should have sufficed. I think the OP was right in not going. I think there are plenty of other ways to show family support. I think the mother sounds like a control freak and it sounds like the entire family may just do what she tells them to do. Is it really one big happy family or is it that mother rules the roost and all her children never had the courage to defy her?

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While I DO agree with you that it's ridiculous to have that many people at the hospital- it is not a good idea for the OP to tell the rest of them what to do...(Although I am surprised the hospital didn't kick them all out!). I think in choosing not to go, but not expecting her husband to ignore the tradition, she did the right thing- she didn't do something SHE was uncomfortable with, and she didn't impose her view on the rest of them.

 

Also- the OP is interpreting unkind motives behind the actual words spoken...Even if MIL is displeased, she is at least TRYING to accept the OP as the new 'main woman' in her sons life. She MAY be misinterpreting. Or she may be right, and that case, she should at least appreciate that MIL isn't making a big issue about things. So far, all I've heard is "your his wife and I understand that you.. come first... and that's ok..", and "We missed you last night"...

 

Where's the sinister intent? MIL is allowed to be disappointed that her new DIL isn't jumping into family 'traditions' with both feet. Each generation hopes the traditions that are important to them will carry on into the next, so they are allowed to be disappointed if the next generation isn't so interested...

 

The OP needs to show respect, and at a minimum, try very hard to not interefere with her husbands participation in family tradition (that is for HIM to decide if he wants to continue to participate). But to start telling them their traditions are 'wrong' will only alienate the family.

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Such wise words!! I really struggled with my mother-in-law, especially as she was the typical 'mother of a gay' but he had never dared come out to her cos she was homophobic! So for a while I was so resentful, them having this close relationship and me paying the price AND keeping his secret!

 

But I decided to make that effort and I'm so glad. I'm glad for our children, who have a lovely relationship with her, whereas my mum was demented for many years and died last year. I'm glad for my Ex who was saved a lot of aggro because we got on. I'm glad for her because we are her only family in this country and she would have hated for there to be bad feeling, and I'm glad for myself because I made a good choice and have made a good friend as a result.

 

It's 26 years since I first met her; in that time her son has come out to her, we've divorced, she's 'suddenly realised what you were going through' and we remain extremely close, in fact closer than I was to my own mother.

 

And yet 25, 24, 23 years ago I woudl have said it wasn't worth the effort...

 

I hope you can find another way of relating to this woman who, whatever else she may or may not do, has tried her best to express a respect for the new status quo, and has made herself vulnerable by clearly stating what she needs from you. This is not an easy thing to do. I think if you respect her for it, and try your best not to judge her but to see her as someone very different from you and therefore maybe with some interesting insights, and if you bring a little humility to the table, it's possible you may make a really good friend - and make things a LOT easier for the man you love.

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I have to chime in here. I loved that I had 20+ people waiting outside my delivery room when I gave birth. It made me feel really loved and cared for.

 

For me, having my daughter was a once in a lifetime experience, and I wouldn't have wanted anyone to miss it.

 

That family tradition is really sweet. Sometimes you have to let your comfort slide a little bit to be there for family.

 

In a couple months/years, would it really have mattered that your life was disrupted for a short period of time? I wouldn't have thought twice about going.

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The maternity ward where I gave birth was very intimate. There was one other woman on the floor at the opposite end of the wing. My doctor was actually there with me the entire process from beginning to end.

 

No one disturbed anyone. The staff loved it too. The knew, being maternity nurses/assistants, how special it was. They were very accomodating to everyone there, and there were zero problems with the other patient.

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I also find this very peculiar. He had to ask for permission to go? And you didn't care for him to do that? What is that dynamic all about?

 

DN, he was just asking "you don't care if I go there do you", I told him "No, not at all but I was getting the kids ready for bed PLUS they had homework to do before their tests the following day. Did I mention that we also live an hour a way?

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I do make the effort to visit and spend time. When we were dating we would usually spend nearly every weekend over there hanging out with his Mom and Dad. I've also started a new job too. Still learning and working long hours. Every weekend there seems to be something going on, a get together a birthday party, a cookout. I just feel too that being a newly wedded couple we should have time to get to know one another too.

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^^ while i totally get what you are saying DN, what is wish to do if she has children who need to get to school early the next morning? I don't know how old the kids are, but would she really be able to leave them home alone while she goes to the hospital overnight?

 

DN We live an hour away, the kids had to do their homework, and get to bed early for their tests the following morning

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Well, when my husband returned and showed me the pictures later that night, frankly I was surprised. The room was full of kids and the baby, not even an hour old was passed from one person to the other. Perhaps I was brought up differently. I value peoples private time. I know that would have been so overwhelming to me.

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But it wasn't you that was giving birth.

 

You can choose to be 'right' over this or you can try to understand that you have created a situation where you are making yourself an outsider in his family.

 

Well, to be honest, I do feel like an outsider at times. I know she finds it hard that I won't be able to have any children by her son too. Remember too that they often intrude on our weekend get away trips, they constantly advise us that we need to have everyone over at our house for a cook out... She also tells that we need to ask xxx person over to our house. I mean, come on, let us decide, give us some time.. we are newly weds. They just do things differently and I feel that its not all about their way, they need to understand our way too.

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I do make the effort to visit and spend time. When we were dating we would usually spend nearly every weekend over there hanging out with his Mom and Dad. I've also started a new job too. Still learning and working long hours. Every weekend there seems to be something going on, a get together a birthday party, a cookout. I just feel too that being a newly wedded couple we should have time to get to know one another too.

 

Ok, but are you LOOKING for reasons to be upset? A baby isn't an 'every weekend' kind of thing. It is special.. And I do think you handled it properly IMO. I'm just saying you don't have to get all defensive about your POV or attack hers. She would have liked you there, you couldn't be there for reasons YOU felt were valid. You are inferring that she wasn't happy about it, but she limited her comment to "we missed you". IMO, NO ONE has misstepped here. She doesn't have to LIKE your choices, you don't have to AGREE with hers, but you both need to try to respect where the other is coming from.

 

Don't make a big deal out of it. It's not like she's going around saying to anyone who will listen "the NERVE of her not to be here! She has NO respect for our family values" but you can't expect her to not be disappointed that you didn't do the backflips she is used to everyone else doing for 'the sake of the family'.

 

NO mother in law will EVER agree with EVERY choice or action that their children and their spouses make...nor will it work the other way around.

 

And I still say that you (not you and your husband, but you alone) should try to build a relationship with her. She will cut you a wider berth if she knows you understand what's important to her and also gets to understand what's important to you.

 

People create conflict in relationships because they expect others to intuitively think about all the problems in YOUR life, the obstacles YOU face and the problems YOU have...the truth is, their too busy worrying about their own stuff. Unless you take the time to say "I'd love to but..." they are most likely going to do exactly what you are doing here...take a negative view of your choices, and assume that you don't care/resent etc...

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Well, when my husband returned and showed me the pictures later that night, frankly I was surprised. The room was full of kids and the baby, not even an hour old was passed from one person to the other. Perhaps I was brought up differently. I value peoples private time. I know that would have been so overwhelming to me.

 

It would have been overwhelming to me too. But neither you nor I were there, so it isn't our problem. If the woman giving birth had a problem with it, she and her husband could have spoken up about it. They didn't. You weren't there. So stay out of it. Creating a debate to justify a decision you already had a right to make, will do you absolutely NO good.

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Forgive me for asking, this may be on another thread - why can't you have children with her son? Is this something YOU are unhappy about? As you are so defensive at the moment, did you take the expectation that you should be there as a criticism that it'll never be YOU giving birth? Or are you sad about that?

 

They are perfectly entitled to do this the way they do things.

 

You are perfectly entitled to be introverted.

 

Both are okay.

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I do understand really I do. I did feel guilty afterwards for not being there after the birth but I was looking at it from how I would feel. I would find it too overwhelming. My husband comes from a big family. I come from a small family who pretty much kept themselves to themselves and no one knew your business. I feel like since we got married we can't sneeze unless they know about it. For instance, I was having back problems and went to the doctor. I told his Mom that the doc told me that he didn't want to do surgery but try physical therapy. That evening I had everyone calling me saying that his Mom told them if I had surgery it would be life threatening. Then we had a small leak at our house, his Mom told everyone that there was water pouring in.. It's like she needs to be the story teller but at the same time gets stuff wrong.

 

Sometimes I find myself watching what I say not for it to be interpreted any differently. She asks a question then when you reply, its like she doesn't pay attention, then gets the story confused.

 

I am so used to having my business and family life private but his Mom and Dad feel like they want to know all about what's going on... its hard!!

 

For the longest time, while we were dating (we are in our late 30's) his Mom and Dad would call constantly over the weekend. It was smothering and sometimes a little annoying. We would go on weekend trips camping and they would show up with the rest of the family. I was not brought up that way. We pretty much kept ourselves to ourselves.

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Forgive me for asking, this may be on another thread - why can't you have children with her son? Is this something YOU are unhappy about? As you are so defensive at the moment, did you take the expectation that you should be there as a criticism that it'll never be YOU giving birth? Or are you sad about that?

 

They are perfectly entitled to do this the way they do things.

 

You are perfectly entitled to be introverted.

 

Both are okay.

 

Well, your right, I am introverted a little. I'm unable to have children because after my last child I decided to have my tubes tied.

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As a Mom and wife personally I would find it overwhelming to have that many people waiting outside the delivery room. Since my children were getting ready for bed and an early night I didn't care for my husband to visit the hospital. I felt that this time was needed for the new parents and grand parents. Is it too bad to feel that way?

 

Please understand that this is new territory for me too.

 

His parents very much want to know what's going on in everyone's lives.

 

They expect you to be there based on their beliefs

 

They don't feel that it is intrusive to call newly weds on their honeymoon either.. sorry had to vent.

 

When we go on weekend trips they expect to be invited too. However, we have had to draw boundaries. His other siblings go on vacations and his parents don't get to go.

 

When we traded our car his Mom asked us if we had got our finances in order and if we could afford it.

 

I struggle with the situation because I'm a private person. I don't want people to know what's going on.

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